Objective 2.1

Effective mechanisms that manage and support accountable humanitarian coordination leaders

During 2011, the ERC led the IASC in taking robust steps to improve the humanitarian response to large-scale emergencies. Working within the framework of the IASC’s transformative agenda, OCHA has committed to strengthening humanitarian leadership, accountability and coordination. OCHA’s main focus will be on helping Humanitarian Coordinators (HCs) become more effective leaders. OCHA’s approach includes enhancing the identification, selection and development of HCs; strengthening overall support to the HC in key areas such as inter-cluster coordination; and providing carefully targeted support from OCHA headquarters to HCs around the world.

In 2012-2013, OCHA will look to sharpen its recruitment procedures, identifying and screening potential HCs from UN and non-UN organizations. The aim is to access a broader range of high-caliber potential recruits for deployment in crisis situations, helping create a new generation of diverse and dynamic humanitarian leaders. OCHA will establish an internal, dedicated talent-scouting capacity, while liaising with partner organizations to ensure they give OCHA access to their most qualified staff. While expanding the regular HC pool, OCHA will develop a roster of experienced leaders available to deploy within 72 hours of a sudden-onset crisis. OCHA will continue its group trainings for RCs and HCs, but will now provide additional individualized learning support tailored to the specific needs of each leader. Team-building programmes for selected HCTs will also be launched.

OCHA will focus on strengthening accountability where it matters most: at the field level. This will mean OCHA convening annual meetings of IASC members to elicit feedback on RC/HC performance. OCHA will also support RC/HCs in developing strategic framework/compacts, taking into account the different contexts in each country. This will improve accountability for collective results and ensure that clear priorities in humanitarian response are established and followed. 

Ensuring strong leadership and accountability in the field requires dedicated support from headquarters. Until now, OCHA’s support to the 30 RC/HCs worldwide has been relatively inconsistent, determined to a large extent by the level of priority given to individual crises. In 2012-2013, OCHA will increase its support, creating a dedicated unit to increase regular contact between OCHA’s Coordination and Response Division (CRD) and each RC/HC. A system for tracking and monitoring each RC/HC’s priorities, achievements and support requirements will be rolled out, forming the basis for monthly follow-up by the CRD Director and Deputy Director. 

Better interaction and dialogue between HQ and RC/HCs will be complemented by active backup and guidance on the ground. A principal aim of OCHA’s targeted field missions will be to help OCHA field offices give more support to RC/HCs in key areas, such as inter-cluster coordination. OCHA will also organize and guide inter-cluster field-support missions in collaboration with inter-agency and global cluster partners.

Improving clusters is integral to boosting humanitarian response. OCHA will support the periodic review of clusters, encouraging them to be better streamlined and providing stronger analysis on gaps in humanitarian operations, planning and results.

The most critical support from humanitarian organizations for RC/HCs can often come in the first 72 hours of a sudden-onset crisis. Working in line with the IASC’s transformative agenda, in 2012-2013 OCHA will support the development of inter-agency training targeting senior staff across the IASC system for crisis deployment. The training should help staff from different branches share experience and ideas, with positive implications for all-round coordination.


Result 1: Humanitarian leaders have sufficient and adequate skills, knowledge and experience to perform tasks effectively
Indicator 1. Diversified pool of trained Humanitarian Coordinator candidates better prepared for deployment  

In 2011, the HC pool grew from 27 to 39 members from 14 different agencies. However, there is an insufficient number of HC pool members who are female, from non-OECD countries, French or Arabic speakers, and/or at the D2 level. Only a limited number of members are available for immediate deployment. The IASC has therefore requested OCHA to continue enlarging the pool, with particular attention to individuals available for immediate deployment in a level-3 emergency.


Establish a separate window of the HC pool for senior-level candidates available for immediate deployment in a level-3 emergency. Leverage existing networks, identify potential feeder groups and develop new partnerships to identify at least 20 new candidates for the HC pool. Identify and screen individuals who have the potential to become effective HCs. Develop an inter-agency career development programme for these individuals, including secondments to UN and non-UN organizations.

NEW: Opportunities are provided to non-UN HC pool candidates to serve as DHC. Staff are mentored for RC assessment training, prioritizing support to internal candidates who meet gender/geographical diversity criteria. Joint action plan developed with agencies on policies for increased HC applications.


20 new HC pool members will have been selected, including members available for immediate deployment in a level-3 emergency.

10 individuals will have benefited from the career development programme.

Indicator 2. Improved performance of HCs (and RCs performing humanitarian functions) and targeted HCTs.

To date, many HCs have been able to deliver strong results, building the dynamics of trust, collegiality and mutual respect needed for a successful HCT. However, there has been little methodical follow-up with HCs on the challenges they face and the support they require. Furthermore, OCHA’s field-mission support for coordination, while useful, has been predominantly ad hoc (e.g. Côte d’Ivoire, Libya, Kenya and Colombia in 2011). There is currently no consistent means of identifying target country operations where special support and mentoring from OCHA may be needed. Current guidance and coordination documents may be widely available but need to be streamlined and made more relevant, providing HCs with solid guidelines and the types of support available to them.


Improved performance of HCs and HCTs in 10 priority countries through:

• Tailored learning programmes and more systematized follow-up from HQ.

• Offering the HC mentoring programme for all new HCs. HCT team-building programmes to strengthen team performance in selected countries.

• Targeted field-support missions to support, mentor and build capacity in OCHA offices, complementing the support provided to the HC.

• Inter-cluster field-support missions to support coordination with IASC partners.

• OCHA Coordination Guide published in booklet form online and rolled out in five pilot country offices.

ACCELERATED: Development and implementation of transformative agenda action plans in nine selected countries.


Improved performance of HCs (and RCs performing humanitarian functions) in all remaining countries through tailored learning programmes, mentoring and more systematized follow-up from HQ. HCT team-building programmes to strengthen team performance in selected countries. Inter-cluster field support missions to at least five additional countries. OCHA Coordination Guide rolled out in 10 additional OCHA country offices.

Indicator 3. Strengthened coordination capacity, skills and knowledge of key humanitarian actors to respond swiftly and cohesively to sudden-onset crises in support of the HC.

Effective HC leadership requires solid backup from staff deployed by IASC partners, including OCHA, who are pre-trained on the importance of coordination and the role of the HC. In 2011, IASC Principals endorsed the development of an inter-agency training for senior standby personnel to enhance the coordination of the IASC response in the event of a sudden-onset crisis. 


Launch of annual IASC training (building on existing training models and mainly simulation based) for level-3 capable staff, including core staff needed to establish an OCHA office, first-line cluster coordinators, senior NGO representatives and senior roster staff from each of the member organizations, developed and implemented. Real-time evaluations of major new emergencies show strengthened leadership in the first days/weeks of a crisis, as compared to existing evaluations.

EXPANDED: Phased approach adopted for the roll-out of a new, streamlined guidance package, ensuring dissemination to all HCs, HCTs and field-based clusters and partners. Existing but simplified guidance is incorporated in relevant OCHA and agency/cluster-specific training programmes, and in HC and HCT training by December 2012. OCHA supports capacity-building to cluster coordinators. OCHA priority countries have received effective, on-the-ground support for enhanced coordination structures through field missions and mentoring.  
ACCELERATED: Key cluster guidance on activation; core tasks and functions; management;  minimum commitments for participation; and inter-cluster coordination is fast-tracked for endorsement by April. Completion of outstanding guidance (sub-national coordination models, cluster de-activation, transition, co-leadership, performance monitoring) by July.
NEW: Agreement on IARRM concept, articulating key functional areas to be deployed in Level 3 response. Overview of agency capacities completed and gaps identified and reviewed every six months. Existing and developing agency and inter-agency training for core functions is mapped. Inter-agency training for core IARRM staff developed and implemented by August/Sept.  
EXPANDED: Existing surge training for OCHA staff expanded by 50 per cent.  


Implementation of annual IASC training session. Real-time evaluations of major new emergencies show strengthened leadership in the first days/weeks of a crisis, as compared with existing evaluations.

Result 2: Strengthened accountability through improved support and performance management for Humanitarian Coordinators.
Indicator 1. More systematic performance evaluation and support to HCs by OCHA leadership through improved tracking and support mechanism.

HC compacts with the ERC provide some structure in identifying the support requirements of each HC, but have not been uniformly applied or systematically reviewed. This has resulted in a deficiency of guidance and support for the HC. A more dynamic interface between OCHA senior management and each HC is required to deliver timely, targeted and effective support. At the same time, a more systematic mapping of requests for support received from HCs is required to ensure that OCHA is delivering on its promises.


Established OCHA system for managing HC performance, providing consistent feedback and guidance on established and changing priorities, using established benchmarks for successful performance (the Humanitarian Coordination Competencies), and mapping support requests.

Increased engagement by IASC in HC performance evaluation. Monthly dialogue between all HCs and the CRD Director and Deputy Director leading to improved support and follow-up, thereby enhancing HCs’ performance.

NEW: Annual meeting of inter-agency HC selection and review panel elicits IASC member feedback on HC performance by midyear, which is incorporated into the ERC performance appraisal of HCs. Integration of HCT/HC review into agency-appraisal systems is tracked by July. 
NEW: Repository of cluster-specific monitoring models is maintained, and performance assessment and monitoring tool is developed.


Monthly dialogue between all HCs and the CRD Director and Deputy Director. Analysis of the support matrix to identify HCs’ ongoing training, learning and policy development needs, as well as to assess the impact of capacity-building/support provided in 2012.

Result 3: Strengthened support to humanitarian leadership on key operational challenges and gender and protection mainstreaming.
Indicator 1. Systematic review of common thematic challenges faced by humanitarian leaders and requiring intervention.

For HCs to be effective, they must be able to promote and implement a humanitarian agenda. But at present there is no coherent tracking of HCs’ activities and impact, the challenges they face and the support required at HQ level. OCHA needs to rectify this and enable its senior management to work closely with UN partners and others in support of HCs.


Biannual review of thematic challenges and lessons learned, drawn from the HC Compact/Support Matrix, compiled to inform guidance, training and policy development.


Continued review and application of lessons learned.

Indicator 2. Rapid and predictable gender and protection expertise provided to HCs

GenCap deploys gender advisers to ongoing humanitarian situations and maintains a roster for the deployment of gender advisers to rapid-onset emergencies. GenCap advisers are also involved in preparedness activities through regional deployments. There are currently around 40 experts on the GenCap roster.

ProCap deploys senior protection officers to support the HC and/or Protection Cluster lead agencies, providing support to cluster coordination (particularly in natural disaster preparedness and response) and for strategic planning for protection.  ProCap also provides technical expertise in specific areas, such as IDP policy and durable solutions, and in setting up a UN SC 1612 monitoring mechanism. There are currently around 25 experts on the ProCap roster.


GenCap and ProCap effectively meet all incoming support requests. Consolidated GenCap roster of more than 50 available and well-qualified members. At least 35 available and well-qualified members on ProCap roster.


Institutional discussions are initiated to identify a sustainable solution for the inclusion of gender and protection expertise in coordination structures.

Result 4: Roles and responsibilities of HCT and clusters clarified and tested (NEW).
Indicator 1. Triggers for large scale emergency response agreed, tested, and in place.

No systematic approach for agencies on special procedures for major emergencies.


NEW: IASC agreement on concept defining a Level 3 emergency is developed and secured, outlining a system-wide activation procedure, and indicating how this will trigger agency and inter-agency response mechanisms. By mid-April, OCHA leads a simulation of IASC Principal-level processes and procedures for the first 48 hours of a Level 3 emergency. Lessons learned are integrated into Transformative Agenda action plan.